Is prabal gurung the most man in fash­ion? woke

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - AFFLUENCE - ROBIN GIVHAN

PRABAL Gurung reg­u­larly com­ments on cur­rent events, pol­i­tics and social jus­tice. He offers un­var­nished, im­pas­sioned thoughts on Twit­ter and In­sta­gram. And he will hold a mir­ror up to his own fail­ings, in­clud­ing the lazi­ness of re­ly­ing on social me­dia as a form of con­struc­tive protest.

Gurung uses fash­ion the way a mu­si­cian might de­ploy par­tic­u­larly pointed lyrics or an artist might un­veil a provoca­tive can­vas. He is not call­ing fash­ion a high art, but he does con­sider it a pow­er­ful form of com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

Be­sides, it’s the only mega­phone he has.

Fash­ion “gives one a plat­form, a way for me to speak to is­sues that are im­por­tant to me”, Gurung said.

The gen­eral pub­lic might not recog­nise his name, but his work has been widely seen – worn by Michelle Obama, He­len Mir­ren, Kerry Wash­ing­ton and Issa Rae. He be­came the face of phil­an­thropic re­lief ef­forts af­ter the 2015 earth­quake that killed 9 000 in his child­hood home, Nepal.

Most re­cently, Gurung has been adding his voice to the con­ver­sa­tion about sex­ual harass­ment and how to shift the bal­ance of power in the work­place. He dressed Rae and Wash­ing­ton for the Golden Globes and then of­fered ver­sions of their gowns for sale to raise money for the Time’s Up gen­der-equal­ity ini­tia­tive. He re­cently joined a tele­vised panel of men from var­i­ous in­dus­tries to talk about male cul­pa­bil­ity in per­pet­u­at­ing sex­ism – with Gurung ar­gu­ing that men should re­ally be do­ing more lis­ten­ing than talk­ing.

But be­fore he be­gan rais­ing his voice on highly charged sub­jects, Gurung was putting plus-size mod­els on his run­way and T-shirts ral­ly­ing for fem­i­nism and diver­sity into his col­lec­tions. Af­ter the Nepal earth­quake, he in­vited monks to open his show with a prayer and launched a fund-raiser that brought in more than $1 mil­lion to aid sur­vivors.

Gurung is not so much a provo­ca­teur as he is a pub­lic con­science, which can be a kind of provo­ca­tion in it­self. He is not preach­ing right and wrong to Sev­enth Av­enue, but he is en­cour­ag­ing it to find its moral cen­tre. He has of­ten been told that he is over­reach­ing: he’s just a dress­maker, af­ter all, cre­at­ing frocks, not a cure for can­cer.

But be­ing in­vested in fash­ion, Gurung said, “doesn’t make us less con­cerned about what’s hap­pen­ing in the world… Fash­ion is not the land of the stupids”.

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